Image Licensing


Monetizing your Social Media Presence for Outdoor Photographers


Lesson Info

Image Licensing

So, image licensing. So, as I mentioned, image licensing is a big part of what I do. Now, this image right here is actually probably my most licensed image. It's not the most I've made on a single image. But it's the most licensed image. Most companies have licensed this photograph. You've seen it probably on products and TVs and computers and other places. And it's a beautiful scene. A lot of the time when people are licensing some of the stuff, like this, for like tech companies and things like that, they don't want people in the shots. But when you're doing stuff for other types of companies, or marketing, or advertising, often times they do. Which is a great way for a lot of Instagrammers I know to license their prints. Beautiful scenes, especially for us outdoor photographers, of a mountain, and a lake, a kayak, and a little guy hanging out there, and the paddle's just right. It's great. It's perfect. Like a lot of people that do that type of work, like, your stuff is primed for l...

icensing. And people, or a lot of companies out there do want that stuff. So license images via social media. It's a little bit of a challenge, in the sense that it's hard to know exactly what company is trying to find what. Now, right now, yes, you can can put your stuff up on 500px, Flickr, or Again, these are highly curated places, or at least is more so than the other ones. But they're places that people do go to look for images. Advertising agencies and buyers go look, to go check things out. So, it could be a good place if you feel that you have a good gallery, or you have a lot of nice images that you think are right for it, you can send them out there. Again, 500px will license them for you. They'll take more of a cut than I'm happy with, but, you might be okay with it, at least as you're starting out doing this. You can use LinkedIn to connect with companies. Now, again, I'll show you how to do this sending cold emails and what not. Now mostly I'm doing that with the mindset of creating marketing campaigns, but it can be done for image licensing as well. Imagine yourself having an image of a Sony camera, or, you know, an F-Stop backpack, or a certain tripod. Something that is unique and different. Truly unique. You can try to reach out to them and say, "Hey, I have this body of work." And that can also not only help you with sponsorship, but it can also potentially help you license some images. Which, for me, is also usually part of the sponsorship. Which we will get to in a second. Build them into larger marketing campaigns or sponsorship contracts. That's, again, the idea that most of my image licensing comes as a part of sponsorships, or connections, or partnerships that I have with other companies, as well as the work from past clients. So I work with a lot of marketing firms, and a lot of those marketing farms represent a lot of companies. A lot of those companies need content. They need assets. And so, they will reach back out to me to help them generate assets, based on something I've either shot. or may be able to conscript me to get out an produce something. But certainly when I do marketing campaigns, in order to increase the value of the marketing campaigns that I'm willing to do and that I want to charge for, I build in the idea of marketing campaign...or building in the idea of image licensing into the campaign. I'll show you guys how to do that. And like I said, reconnecting with past clients. This is networking 101. Which is actually literally a section we have. We're going to be talking about later on. But connecting with past clients, again. People you've worked with that know how good you are, that enjoy that relationship. That idea of reaching back out to them with new bodies of work. I constantly do that with companies that I have worked with, that I am working with. "Hey, I put together this gallery of stuff that you might be interested in." "Send it over." Nothing might happen. They might be pick out a few. But, maybe I generated $5,000 in extra money that month because I pushed it out there. Of stuff that I wouldn't have gotten because they wouldn't have asked. Sometimes I'm hitting people just at the right time. It's actually a really interesting aspect, not just of image licensing, but also of marketing campaigns. Is knowing when your company's fiscal years are up. A company's fiscal year is my favorite time to pitch a client. Is usually at the very end of their fiscal year or right when they start. Usually at the very end is great, because they have too much budget, which means I can charge more. Now usually it's's black or white. It's usually where they have like too much they need to figure out something to do...something big to do. Or they have none, and they've already spent it, and then you're out of luck. Then you've got to wait for a month, until they get their next budget. Figuring out when their fiscal quarter is is great. Good information. If they're a public company then you should be able to figure this stuff out. Stock Agencies, again, I'll mention this. It's not tied to social media. But people do make some money on stock. Stock photography doesn't pay what it used to. A lot of micro stock information out there, where people don't really make a ton of money. But, it is a possibility to do something. I purchase stock images in order to create some of the presentations and classes I've done here on CreativeLive. Although, to be fair, I didn't pay a ton of money. So print image licensing. Licenses come down to a handful of different things that you guys need to figure out in order to figure out what you would charge. So, again, this is not a business class, but I figured it would be something interesting to cover. So, usage. Usage is probably one of the biggest variables in terms of determining your price. What are they using it for? Is it going on a Facebook cover? Is it a phone that's going to put it as their default wallpaper on their launch campaign globally? Is it going to go on a desktop of a, you know, major computer manufacturer? Does it go on Joe Bob's plumbing truck? What's the usage? The bigger the usage, the more you can charge. The lesser the usage, the less it is. Duration, how long are they going to use it? Now this is something that, to be honest, I don't work with too much, except for my highest-paying image licensing. So most of my image licensing that are more in the mid, smaller end, a lot of the time, I simply license in the idea of perpetuity. Which [inaudible] means that they have lifetime rights. It's not exclusive, which exclusivity we'll talk about in a second. But for me, for small image pieces, for something that I'm licensing for $150 or $500 or things like that, generally I just don't have the time, three years later, to make a complete schedule of all the images I've licensed, to go back and say, "Hey, would you like to re-license this?" Other photographers do. It can be advantageous. I don't want to sit there and promote the idea of being lazy like myself. Simply the idea that oftentimes I can just charge more If I say, "Hey, just because you guys don't have to worry about it, why don't we do this is in perpetuity? I'll charge you a little bit more." I make extra money. I don't have to worry about following up with it. Unless it's one of my big clients. Unless it's someone I'm licensing images for usually over four figures. Over four figures, generally I obviously will put in the time and sit there and say, "Okay. You licensed this image for $10,000. You will hear from me on September 17th, the day after our license agreement is done." Exclusivity. This is the biggest one and the rarest one. I've only probably in my career had two or three of these ever licensed. And these are never in perpetuity. Exclusivity means that that image has zero value to you as a photographer. And for me as an individual, and as an entrepreneur, and as a person that tries to extend the value of anything that I create, putting it into multiple products, and any photo that I take might go into advertising an e-book, and pushing a product, and maybe teaching a class, and x, y, and z. That means that that image, I can't use it. So of I can't use it, then I'm charging you for it. Charging you for all the other business that I would typically get if I was able to use that image. So these images, exclusivity, are massively expensive sales. And like I said, they're pretty rare. I've done a few of these, well into the five figures per image. Significantly into the five figures. Usually for two to three years at a time. Which is part of the duration. Duration, the most common image licensing, is usually a year. Some places will want two or three. And, again, the more years, the more you charge. The company or individual that's licensing it. I will have a sliding scale. People that say they don't, that's your choice. For me, I'm going to charge a Sony or a CreativeLive or something else more expensive than I'm going to charge my local plumber. Because they have the budget. And I want something fair. I certainly have a bottom line that I'm happy with, but I want something that...I want to be realistic at the same time. And, of course, if they're being unrealistic, then, of course, most of what you do as an entrepreneur and as a photographer is educating the clients on the value of your work. It's what we do. Number of images licensed. So, say if a client wants the image...wants to license 10 instead of 1, I give a discount. I drop the price per image, because I'm making more money. Works out well. And how unique the image is. This one tied with exclusivity is really your two big, you know, joker hands, or important cards to have in your deck. If it's a truly unique image, meaning that the client cannot find something else they can use in that place, then you have all the cards. You're holding all the great cards in the game of poker in this dance of this business transaction. For most images out there, that's not the case. Most images out there, it's like, "Oh hey, there's a beautiful image of, you know, Zion National Park." You could look on, you know, Google. Google Search or 500px and there's literally like 10 billion. So unless that image was like there's a unicorn flying through the sky, probably not so unique. But you can judge all of these things. I don't want to give you numbers necessarily, because they're going to be different for each of us. For me, like I said, I can license images from anywhere from a couple of hundred bucks, all the way up to...I've never licensed anything for six figures, but certainly high into the five figures. For a single photo.

Class Description

Social Media is a powerful marketing tool, but how do you leverage yourself to gain the attention of new clients or potential sponsors? Colby Brown covers how you can find ways to monetize using various networking platforms. Whether you’re interested in finding clients, becoming a brand ambassador, or selling prints this class will give you the tools needed to make strides in getting your network to work for you. You’ll learn: 

  • The significance of getting verified and how to find the right target markets for your business 
  • How to use ads to expand your business on Facebook 
  • The hidden value of LinkedIn and how to utilize it for sponsorship or brand influencer work 
  • How and when to pay to expand your reach


Linea Broadus

Colby's class was packed with great information for landscape photographers! From writing pitches to marketing with social media, he clearly explains how to achieve personal business goals. Thanks, Colby!

Beatriz Stollnitz

I was fortunate to be in the live audience for this course. If you (and I !!!) take the time to truly absorb the content presented and put it in practice, this course will pay for itself over and over and over. It is rare for someone at Colby's success level to be so open about the financial aspects of what they do, and the details of how they do it. Highly recommended!

Esther Beaton

There were 2 benefits from this course. First was the straight info from Colby - very specific - on how to write cold emails and pitches, how to find prospective clients, where to sell work, etc. Second BIG benefit was his stress on our individual creativity to achieve new revenue in this new age of the photography boom. Oh, and there's a 3rd: use social media; you almost can't go wrong.